SportSoccer

Van Gaal refuses to comment on rumours he is set to retire early

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Speculation over Van Gaal's future continues to rumble on
Speculation over Van Gaal's future continues to rumble on

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has declined to clarify rumours that he is planning to retire at the end of this season, a year before his Old Trafford contract is due to expire.

Reports this week have suggested that Van Gaal is pondering whether to call time on his decorated coaching career this summer, after several months of persistent criticism for his team's performances.

His mood may not have been improved by a report that United held talks with outgoing Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola last week, even though the club moved swiftly to deny those claims.

Yet it was the subject of his retirement date that was discussed at his pre-match press briefing ahead of Saturday's game against Southampton, with Van Gaal serving up this less than cordial response.

"I don't think that the press have to help me with my decisions," he said.

"First they have sacked me and now they are interfering with my future. I don't think I have to answer this question."

He was then asked whether speculation over his future might affect United's squad and he insisted he has not seen any evidence of that.

"I have a relationship with the players and that's the most important thing," he added.

"What is happening in the media is a different world. Not everything that the media is writing, I'm sorry to say, is true."

Meanwhile, Van Gaal has admitted that a mounting defensive injury crisis could wreck Manchester United's slim hopes of forcing their way back into Premier League title contention.

Ashley Young has become the fourth United full-back to be ruled out due to injury and the Dutchman admits it will be "difficult" to plug the gap prior to the end of the transfer window.

Young requires surgery on a serious groin injury and could be ruled out for the rest of the season, joining Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo on the sidelines.

"Ashley Young has a severe groin injury, it shall be operated on, so he's [out] for a long time," Van Gaal said on the club's official website.

It means the likes of youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson will have a big role to play as United look to shrug off their problematic start to the season and close the gap on leaders Arsenal.

To make matters worse for Van Gaal, neither Bastian Schweinsteiger nor Phil Jones have completed their expected recoveries and are ruled out of Saturday's home clash with Ronald Koeman's Saints.